By CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
ETHNIC nationalities in the country have called for the recognition of the numerous ethnic groups in the constitution because they are “the original and primary stakeholders of the Nigerian Project.”
The call was part of the agreements reached at the first ever Ethnic Nationalities Conference held in collaboration with The Patriots in Abuja, recently.
Attended by more than 50 Ethnic Nationalities from all the geo-political zones of the country on the banner of Ethnic Nationalities Forum (ENM), the groups in a joint communiqué signed by Chief Solomon Asemota (chairman), Michael Orobator (secretary) and 39 other leaders, commended President Goodluck Jonathan for initiating a National Conference that will afford Nigerians the opportunity to address and proffer solutions to the numerous ills plaguing our country.
It, however, advised him not to succumb to ill-intentioned advice from politicians, technocrats, and other Nigerians intent on derailing the process for their selfish gains.”
However, they said the confab should have been ethnic nationalities driven because they are Nigeria’s original and primary stakeholders.
Urging the president to stay focused, they said the President “will leave his name in letters of gold if he oversees a National Conference that honestly addresses the numerous ills of our country.”
They noted that the ethnic nationalities constitute the sociological and cultural foundation of the Nigerian State; and the Nigerian State has no territory other than, or different from, the territories of the various Ethnic Nationalities comprised within it – Yorubaland, Igboland, Hausaland, Kanuriland, Tivland, Beninland, Ijawland, Ikaland, etc from which it follows that Nigeria is, in reality, a union of Ethnic Nationalities.
And having existed long before colonialism and having been the primary targets of, and sufferers from, the marginalization, oppressions and injustices abounding in the country, and being the heart and soul of the Nigerian State, they said “the Ethnic Nationalities demand, as their inalienable right that they should be given legal recognition in the Constitution and their status as separate “Nations” or “Nationalities” should also be recognized.”
Right of seccession
The gathering said that the status of the ethnic groups as separate nations or nationalities confers on them certain inherent rights, in particular the rights of self determination including the right of secession in accordance with article 20(1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right which provides that ‘all peoples shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination.’
“The African Charter has been incorporated by national legislation as part of Nigeria’s domestic law. It is, therefore, disdainful of the law to stop the proposed National Conference from talking about something prescribed and authorized by the law of the country.
Accordingly, recognition of this right, which is an already existing right, is not inconsistent with the notion of the indissolubility or the perpetuity of the Nigerian State. It is a notion to which most of us adhere,” the ENM said.